Driven to Succeed

April 02, 2013

Special Olympics Nippon (Japan) athlete Eriko Fukuda is fueled with the desire to succeed, overcoming her disability.

ErikoFukudaPyeongchang_300x200

Athlete Eriko Fukuda

Growing up

20 year old Eriko was born with physical incapacity on the right side of her body, affecting her balance and movement. When Eriko was in preschool, she wanted to do things as other children did. Because of her physical condition, she could not keep up with her peers, this drove her to tears of frustration.

During elementary school, she started running long distance, but could only complete half the route. This improved in junior high – with constant practice and the support of her schoolmates, Eriko improved, finishing the entire distance.

At 15 years old, Eriko entered a special education high school to suit her learning needs, and joined her local Special Olympics in Gunma prefecture, participating in bowling and alpine skiing. She makes the best of her limitations to maneuver both sports. Eriko has a weak grip in her right hand and stiffness in her wrist, making it hard to rotate. When she bowls, she has to hold the ball with both hands, in order not to drop the ball. When she skis, her stiff right knee and ankle prevents her from performing some physical moves, like bending and turning.


ErikoNipponWG2012_230x300

Eriko competing at the Special Olympics Nippon Winter Games 2012 in Fukushima.

Constant practice

Eriko’s mother says the best thing about Special Olympics is competition. “Competition is Eriko’s goal. She practices hard for competitions. When she wins, she is glad and happy. When she loses, she is frustrated and promises herself that she will win next time, and works hard towards that goal. Special Olympics brightens Eriko’s life.”

Eriko applies this same work ethic towards her ski training. In skiing, as Eriko turns and puts weight on her right side, she loses her balance – sometimes this causes her to fall. When this happens at competition, she must stand up and start again without any help, within a two minute timeframe. Eriko dedicates a part of her training to this - practicing to stand up by herself repeatedly, with her coach timing her. In addition, she practices putting and taking off her racing suits without any assistance, to do it like her fellow athletes.


Eriko Fukuda_award_300x200

Eriko (1st from right) taking the podium for her Bronze win at the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2013 in Pyeongchang.

Personal Best

Having won Silver at the 2012 Nippon National Winter Games, Eriko headed into the 2013 Pyeongchang Winter Games, hoping for a win. She won a Silver and Bronze for the Alpine Novice Giant Slalom and Alpine Novice Super G respectively.

Her personal triumph was maintaining her balance throughout - not once did she fall - completing the races smoothly. At the medal award ceremony for both wins, Eriko was thrilled when her name was called. Since her return, Eriko has been featured in the news, sharing her Special Olympics story in her prefecture.

For now, she is content with her performance in “the biggest event”, and is looking forward to her next ski practice.


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »


Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan